It’s election time again and what better way to add some life to the seemingly endless parade of clapped-out hacks that the electorate clearly despises than by dusting off the usual comedians and commentators to make the usual comedy and comments? Seriously, what better way? There’s got to be a better way, people. Here’s a suggestion: maybe get Shaun Micallef to handle things next time?
Of the two shows returning to the ABC tonight, Gruen Nation continues to be the one of no use to anyone. The tone was set with the opening with the audience laughing at an old Country Party promotional film, which was funny because… people in the past are funny? Because they weren’t as media savvy as we are today? And then we zoned out for a while imagining a show where old people heaped shit on Wil Anderson for not being able to do sums using a slide rule. So much shit. And when we zoned back in Anderson said “same as last time…” and we zoned back out again.
You know the drill by now: wacky opening monologue, here’s the panel, let’s look at a few ads, the TV screen suddenly shatters under the force of our boot because Jesus Fuck, these smug bastards talk about everything but the one thing that actually matters: how what we’re seeing will affect people in the real world. It’s sooo cool to look at political commercials with a disinterested eye and pretend that there’s nothing beneath them, isn’t it? Caring about actual policy is for losers, right guys? Let’s get some ad agencies to write some funny songs, that’ll be hilarious.
Our griping about that stuff might seem beside the point: it’s still a comedy, right? Well, it’s a shit comedy for starters: you want to gut the running time, maybe five full minutes of Anderson’s opening monologue / clip fest is four minutes too long. The panelists laugh at each others jokes, then we cut to Anderson laughing, then we cut to the audience applauding; why again does this needs to go for 45 minutes? Ha ha, they edited Kevin Rudd to make it look like he’s wanking! Then Russel Howcroft says “in marketing, we know that-” and another television bites the dust.
This veers wildly between lame clip comedy – seriously guys, leave this to the Chaser – and borderline dull analysis of political marketing. They show clips, then they restate what we just saw in their own terms: “it’s the most positive negative ad I’ve seen” “we have two opposition leaders here – they’re both running against the Labour Party” and so on. Which tells us what exactly? Who cares, time for more kak-tastic attempts to out-do each other describing Kevin Rudd’s hand gestures. All this is painful enough when it’s regular Gruen, because at least then the marketing they’re promoting is peddling trivial crap; here it’s-
Look, forgive us for noticing that everyone on Gruen Nation‘s panel is either a straight-up millionaire, someone just a regular shitload richer than you and I, someone connected to one of the political parties or someone who makes a living in the media commentating on politicians: in short, people from the well-off end of the spectrum. Who gives a fuck what they think? These are people with enough money to cushion themselves from the excesses of government policy: they have no skin in this game. Having them talk about politics in Australia is like having a bunch of high-paid architects sitting around discussing the designs of housing commission flats. Sure, you can do it and you can even call it good television, but it’s kind of offensive to the people who have to live under those conditions.
This has an effect on the comedy side of things because there’s a big difference between people making fun of a system that treats them poorly and people who are part of the system having a laugh amongst themselves. For a show that’s meant to be informative, there’s zero attempt – via either comedy or analysis – to get at the real heart of the political system, because this show purposely isn’t about that. It’s just forty five minutes each week of wealthy people who have minimal interaction with the pointy end of government policy – it’s doubtful they use many services with “public” on the front – chortling amongst themselves about what a good or bad job their professional peers are doing selling life-changing policies to the little people.
Gruen Nation is a cynical embarrassment, a show that pretends political messaging can and should be divorced from the political message. It’s a show made by an elite condescending to the masses, patting them on the head and saying “here, let us explain this to you” about a subject that for them means little more than who’s going to be signing their next massive pay check. Fuck this show.
As for The Hamster Decides… eh, it was okay.